Aldridge Gardens hosts Arbor Day celebration

Colin Conner shares planting information during a past Arbor Day celebration at Aldridge Gardens

Colin Conner shares planting information during a past Arbor Day celebration at Aldridge Gardens

Celebrated around the world, Arbor Day is a time to plant, care for and learn about trees.

The City of Hoover’s 2015 Arbor Day Celebration was March 7 at Aldridge Gardens. There was a tree giveaway at 9 a.m., formal Arbor Day ceremony at 10:30 a.m. and ceremonial tree planting at 11:15 a.m.

This was the 17th annual celebration – the first event was held at Bluff Park Elementary School back in 1999.

The tree giveaway  included the flowering dogwood, white oak, American fringe tree, American beech and a variety of longleaf pines.

“With nine different native species available this year, our hope is that everyone in need of a tree will be able to find one that works for them,” says Colin Conner, Hoover City forester. “On average and over the long haul, native trees outperform the competition, but there are certainly some non-natives worthy of placement in the local landscape.”

When choosing a tree to take home from the event, residents should see what its mature size would be – above and below ground – to make sure the tree will work for their space.

“It’s critical, however, to understand a particular tree’s site preferences and/or to understand it’s versatility with respect to where it will grow well or what it will grow well in,” he says.

They should also be mindful of the tree’s surroundings. “Trees perform much better in larger groups, so it’s important to maintain a fairly even distribution of healthy trees across a given area,” Conner says.

In addition to liven up someone’s property, trees also help with a variety of other issues.

“Planting and maintaining desirable tree species improves the overall health of Hoover’s urban forest by countering the spread of exotic invasive plants and reducing forest fragmentation,” Conner says.

Urban trees also help clean air and water, reduce erosion, regulate temperature, improve property value and provide wildlife habitat.

“Arbor Day is an excellent opportunity for any community to come together and reflect on these values,” he says. “Free trees for Hoover residents are also a bonus.”

There was also local arborists and other plant experts on hand during the event to answer questions about trees, turf and everything in between. They provided planting guides and other informational brochures on trees and local tree-related agencies.

Another part of the Arbor Day event included the Hoover City School System’s fourth grade Arbor Day essay contest.

“Each year, this program exposes new students – and their families – to Arbor Day and the ‘Arbor Day Experience’ at Aldridge Gardens by recognizing contest winners during the ceremony and providing them with Aldridge memberships,”Conner says.

There were vendors with food and other items. The event attracted a few hundred people.

Hoover also received its 16th consecutive Tree City USA designation during the Arbor Day event. To achieve this status, a city must have a tree board or department, tree care ordinance, community forestry program with an annual budget (or $2 per capita) and Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

In addition to the Arbor Day Celebration, visitors also enjoyed everything else Aldridge Gardens has to offer. The 30-acre garden has a variety of plant collections, art exhibits, walking trails, bird habitat and a lake.

“Aldridge Gardens itself is a unique place, and people are typically amazed when they visit,” Conner says. “With full access to Aldridge Gardens, visitors will be able to tour the new Dirr hydrangea collection, several new walking trails and everything else that makes Aldridge Gardens such a special place.”

[The article originally ran in the March issue of Hoover’s Magazine. Pick up your free copy at one of these locations.]

Written and Photos By Lauren Dowdle

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